Within the framework of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries, an international online seminar was held on the topic: “Attracting employers of multinational corporations to social partnership, experience and prospects for joint cooperation”.
The event was attended by ILO experts, representatives of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The seminar discussed topical issues of attracting employees of multinational corporations to the ranks of trade unions, establishing social partnership with their employers.
Opening the seminar, Deputy Chairman of the FPU S. Bakhtiyor Makhmadaliyev noted that the policy of attracting foreign investment is an effective tool for structural transformations of priority sectors of the economies of all post-Soviet republics.
He said that Uzbekistan has created a favorable investment climate and a broad system of legal guarantees for foreign investors.
“The national legislation provides for the protection of investments for the next 10 years after the investment of changes in legislation that worsen the investment conditions. There are no investment restrictions in the republic for economic sectors or regions to which direct or foreign investments are directed,” Bakhtiyor Makhmadaliyev said.
According to him, the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan is carrying out purposeful work to attract the trade union of employees of enterprises and organizations of the non-governmental sector.
Head of the Europe and Central Asia Department of the International Labour Organization Sergeyus Glovackas in his welcoming speech noted the relevance of the issue of developing social partnership with multinational companies in the context of the economic crisis.
He called on the trade unions of the region to develop joint strategies to attract employers of multinational companies to social partnership.
In this context, the importance of cooperation within the framework of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries was noted.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Gulnara Zhumageldiyeva in her speech shared the experience of trade unions of Kazakhstan in building a social dialogue with multinational companies.
“Today, such large multinational companies as Arcelor Mittal, Eurasian Group (ERG), Kazchrome, KSP Steel, Alstom, General Electric, BASF, etc. operate in Kazakhstan. For example, ERG, which in 2017 was recognized as the most socially responsible company, in 2019 received the Grand Prix in the national competition “Paryz”. In 2018 and 2021, the enterprises of the Eurasian Group (Kazchrome, ERG Service) were recognized as the best in the nomination “Best Collective Agreement”. ERG’s social investments have exceeded 100 billion tenge over the past five years. More than 47 billion During this period, the company invested tenge in the social protection of employees and the maintenance of the social sphere. This is one of the highest rates among the CIS countries. Thus, the Eurasian Group promotes the development of the institution of social partnership, as well as the preservation of harmony and stability in labor collectives. Another positive example is the signing of a Corporate social agreement on cooperation and interaction between the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Consortium “Karachaganak Petroleum Operating B.V.”. Its content is filled with specific obligations – the procedure for wage indexation, payment of sick leave in an increased amount, provision of material assistance to large families, payment for sanatorium treatment, coordination of employer acts with trade union organizations and much more is clearly defined,” Gulnara Zhumageldieva said.
At the same time, she noted that a constructive dialogue based on respect for the will of workers makes it possible to combine the goals of production with the personal aspirations of each employee.
Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan Ismoil Faizizoda told the participants about the development of social partnership in Tajikistan.
According to him, there is a trilateral commission on social and labor relations in Tajikistan, 17 sectoral and 4 regional commissions have been created. In the republic, a General agreement is concluded every 3 years between the government, the trade union and the employer. In the republic, 14,564 organizations, regardless of ownership forms, are covered by social partnership.
“Currently, out of 100% of private companies, only 5% are covered by social dialogue,” Ismoil Faizizoda said.
During the seminar, the participants got acquainted with internationally recognized legal mechanisms for involving Transnational corporations in social dialogue, which were presented by ILO experts.
Gocha Alexandria, Chief Specialist on the Activities of Workers of the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, presented the main principles of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization.
According to the international expert, the ILO Declaration proposes to assist its member States in order to support their efforts aimed at the sustainable development of national policies and ensuring consistency in solving social, economic and environmental problems.
“The Declaration is based on the values and principles embodied in the ILO Constitution and strengthens them in order to find answers to modern challenges. The Declaration institutionalizes the concept of decent work and has incorporated 4 directions – promoting employment through the formation of a stable institutional and economic environment, developing and expanding social protection measures for workers, promoting social dialogue and tripartism, as well as observing, promoting and implementing fundamental principles and rights at work,” said Gocha Alexandria.
According to him, the four strategic objectives of the Declaration are inextricably linked, interdependent and mutually complementary.
In order to build a constructive social dialogue with multinational companies, Gocha Alexandria noted the importance of strengthening the potential of trade union organizations at the national level.
ILO expert Harri Taliga spoke about the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Corporations and Social Policy.
The purpose of the declaration is to ensure the positive contribution of multinational corporations to economic and social progress to ensure decent work in host countries.
“This goal will be achieved through the adoption by Governments of relevant laws and policies, measures and decisions, as well as through cooperation between governments and organizations of workers and employers of all countries,” said Harry Taliga.
According to him, the Declaration considers areas of activity in such areas as employment, vocational training, working and living conditions, as well as labor relations.
“Multinational corporations should fully take into account the overall policy objectives of the countries in which they operate. Their activities should correspond to the priority development goals and social objectives, as well as the social structure of the country in which they carry out their activities. To do this, consultations should be held between multinational corporations, the government, and, if necessary, interested national organizations of employers and workers,” the expert said.
During the second session of the seminar, country presentations on the interaction of trade unions with TNCs at the national level were considered.
Jamshed Yunusov, Head of the Socio-Economic Department for Public Relations and Interethnic Relations of the FNPT, spoke about the general agreement and the experience of attracting transnational corporations to social partnership.
“Mainly Chinese, Russian and European companies operate in the Tajik market. There is a Tripartite Commission on Social and Labor Relations in the Republic. Out of 19,480 organizations, primary trade union organizations have been established in 14,562 and 14,101 collective agreements have been adopted,” the speaker said.
It was noted that Tajikistan’s trade unions are actively working with transnational corporations to attract them to social partnership. Out of 200 companies, more than 30 are covered by social partnership.
“Attracting employers to social partnership in the private sector of the economy and in companies with honest investments is a complex and lengthy evolutionary process. A problematic issue in working with transnational organizations is often the issue of the employer’s opposition to the creation of a trade union organization,” Jamshed Yunusov said.
He believes that the trade unions of the countries of the region need to develop consolidated positions and common response measures to work with employers of multinational companies.
The experience of attracting enterprises with foreign participation to trade unions was shared by the head of the Department for the protection of socio-economic interests, workers of the staff of the FPU Makhmudjon Isaev.
“Uzbekistan has developed a comprehensive system of measures to stimulate the activities of enterprises with foreign investments. As of February 1, 2022, 13,393 enterprises with foreign investments are operating in Uzbekistan. The FPU unites 14 branch trade unions, 5.5 million trade union members are in the ranks. In the republic, 243 enterprises with foreign investments are engaged in trade union services, of which 242 have collective agreements,” Mahmudjon Isayev said.
At the third session of the seminar, issues of freedom of association and social partnership at the enterprise level were discussed.
On the development of social dialogue on the example of the largest companies Kazakhstan JSC “ArcelorMittal Temirtau” was told by Deputy Chairman of the union of coal miners “Қорғау” Aibek Toybekov.
According to the professional leader, the Union of coal miners “Қорғау”, which is part of the branch trade union “Kazugleprof”, unites in its ranks more than 14 thousand employees of the coal department of JSC “ArcelorMittal Temirtau”, which includes 8 coal mines and 7 surface enterprises and organizations.
The company has achieved a high level of collective-contractual regulation and the bar of social guarantees for employees.
The speaker stressed that the Union of Coal Miners “Қорғау” has a fairly solid status and is able to show a principled position.
According to him, to date, partnerships with the company’s executives have been established to a certain extent, but in the absence of mutual understanding, measures such as contacting the state labor inspectorate, authorities at all levels and judicial authorities are used to protect the rights of workers, persons injured at work and pensioners.
“Despite all the difficulties, we managed to fully defend the entire system of remuneration, work regime, vacations, social benefits, as well as resist the company’s desire to reduce the number of employees as much as possible. As a result of joint work with representatives of the employer – members of the bilateral commission on the collective agreement, partnerships began to develop, there were points of understanding on many issues. Over the following years, this made it possible to achieve three salary increases, one–time payments to employees as material support for workers during the pandemic, and also to include in the new collective agreement concluded for 2022-2024 a number of points and conditions that improve the situation of workers,” said the deputy chairman of the coal miners’ union “Қорғау”.
In addition, as Aibek Toybekov stressed, many issues were resolved thanks to the participation of the leadership of the Karaganda region in the negotiations. Monthly meetings of the conciliation commission are held under the leadership of the Akim of the region, at which both the execution of protocol decisions on requirements and the emerging current problems of the social and labor sphere are considered.
The chairman of the trade union organization of the enterprise Salimzoda Khojjimuhammad informed the participants about the development of social partnership in Tajik-Chinese Industrial Company LLC.
He noted that the experience of organizing trade unions for all employees is unique in its kind and plays a positive role in strengthening the moral climate and increasing the welfare of the workforce.
“Tajik-Chinese Industrial Company LLC employs more than 4,000 employees, of which 70% are citizens of the Republic of Tajikistan and 30% are citizens of China. The trade union organization includes workers from both countries. Social partnership is a solid bridge for strengthening the friendship of peoples and adopting common postulates of different cultures,” the speaker noted.
During the exchange of views, the participants stressed that enterprises with foreign investments are obliged to comply with the labor laws of the host countries, not to interfere with freedom of association, respect the rights of trade unions and not to shy away from collective bargaining. In this regard, not only legislation, but also the relevant norms of General, sectoral and territorial agreements have a special role to play.
Following the discussions, it was decided to continue the dialogue and exchange of experience on the basis of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries.
Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan